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He had lost track of the times he dreamed of a voice by his ear, softly calling ‘Master, Master,’ until his heart softened. And yet, that tenderness was quickly followed by bitter pain.
He’d spent these hundred years in silence and solitude. Above the Bamboo Peak, there was nothing left beyond a single, withered peach tree and a damaged qin with broken strings. He spent his days in seclusion, focusing his efforts on cultivation techniques so he wouldn’t be heavily injured ever again. As to why he was trying to hard, he couldn’t say. The person he wanted to protect and wait for would probably never appear again…
He lit a lamp and sat by his desk, raising his brush as he prepared to paint. But he didn’t feel like he could draw anything. In the end, he could only set down his brush and quietly walk out of the room, staring at that peach tree and damaged qin. It wasn’t clear what his thoughts were.
He stood there for one day and one night without realizing it.
“Aiya, what an emotionless fellow,” a marveling voice suddenly appeared on Bamboo Peak. Mu Jin turned to see a man dressed in blue robes, hand holding a gentlemanly fan. His lively eyes examined Mu Jin with interest. “With your cultivation level, you could become an Immortal. Why do you still stay in the mortal realm?”
Mu Jin was uncertain. “You are?”
“This little deity is Ao Xin. I was just passing by when I felt a aura of severed emotions in the mortal realm. A moment of curiosity led me over for a look. This little deity never expected to really see someone interesting.”
Mu Jin gave him a nod. “Would the esteemed deity like to come in and sit?”
Ao Xin examined Mu Jin from head to toe again. “I was wondering why you were still mortal. As it turns out, you just haven’t undergone Heavenly Tribulation yet! With your skills, it shouldn’t be hard to ascend into an Immortal. Could it be that disaster hasn’t struck yet?”
Mu Jin gave a chuckle and lightly shook his head.
“Since we had thefate to meet, this little deity shall guide you on a few pointers,” Ao Xin pinched his fingers together as he calculated the fates, before suddenly laughing. “This is certainly an interesting calamity. Just destroy that qin over there. After it’s been ruined, you’ll pass through your tribulation.” As he finished, Ao Xin couldn’t help but secretly whisper to himself, “I’ve never seen such a simple tribulation.”
Mu Jin still shook his head as before, causing Ao Xin to give him an odd look.
“It’s all right if I don’t pass this tribulation,” Mu Jin said.
“Hey!” Ao Xin laughed. “This is my first time meeting anyone like you. Giving up the chance to ascend into Heaven for a single qin. Judging by your looks, you won’t survive past 20 more years without ascension.”
Mu Jin stared blankly at the qin for a while before speaking in a daze. “I’d throw away a thousand years of cultivation and never become an Immortal, rather than destroy this qin.”
Ao Xin gave a start at seeing Mu Jin’s expression. For a second, he couldn’t tell whether the other was talking about not destroying the qin, or not regretting his qing–his feelings.
“Esteemed deity came with good intentions, but Mu Jin must politely refuse. But…if you’d like to stay, Mu Jin can only receive you with a cup of tea. If you’d like to leave, forgive Mu Jin for not seeing you off a long distance.”
Ao Xin raised an eyebrow before angrily flicking his sleeves to stalk off. “You don’t know what’s good for yourself!”
You don’t know what’s good for yourself…perhaps, it was because none of them knew which words were good and which ones were bad when they spoke to him.
 Mu Jin (木锦) – Mu is a surname that means “wood,” Jin is “brocade, bright and beautiful.”
 qin (琴) – a seven-stringed plucked instrument in some ways similar to the zither.
 Ao Xin (敖信) – Ao is a surname that means the same as Ao (遨), or “to ramble, travel, make excursions,” Xin is “trust, confidence, faith” or “at will, at random, without a plan.”
 Heavenly Tribulation (渡劫飞升) – dujie feisheng, literally to “cross/undergo a difficulty” and “rise to the Heavens.” Typically, all cultivators who aspired to Heavenly realms had to pass some sort of test before they could ascend.
 qing (情) – sentiment, feelings, emotional attachment. Sounds similar to ‘qin.’
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